"'Give us also the Right to our Existence!' Explorations of Gender Identity in the Early 20th Century as portrayed in Virginia Woolf's Orlando and Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness."

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In the early twentieth-century, researchers such as Havelock Ellis and Richard von Krafft-Ebing wrote about a phenomenon they called sexual inversion. This was the study of homosexuals who identified as the opposite sex. The idea of a sexual invert was also adopted by a number of writers, such as Radclyffe Hall, who herself identified as a congenital invert. She was a lesbian who preferred masculine clothing. The protagonist, Stephen Gordon, in her novel The Well of Loneliness is born a girl, but grows up as a little boy, because of her parents who had expected to have a son. In later life, Stephen identifies herself as a lesbian and an invert, because she does not want to wear feminine clothing and resents her feminine body. Woolf also wrote about a person whose sexuality and gender is deviated from the norm in Orlando. Orlando is a man who halfway through the book turns into a woman and thus experiences life both ! as a man and a woman, coming to the conclusion that a character that is a combination of both male and female aspects would make a better-developed person.
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